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Solo take-out in Hell's Kitchen, $5-$10?

OK, I know Hell's Kitchen recs are posted frequently, but I wanted to be veeery specific.

I've been working on Saturdays in HK on 50th & 9th. I occasionally have to buy two meals in one day (any two meals, timing is pretty flexible), so expense and variety are definitely key. I would really prefer the low end of the range (except when it's really worth it!), and would prefer no more than 10 street blocks away, on 9th or 10th only.

Places I like:
Empanada Mama (not quite as good as Queens, but good)
Tulcingo del Valle (might finally try Tehuitzingo tomorrow)
Island Burger & Shakes
Hallo Berlin

Places I find to be slightly on the pricey side--even if the portion size give it value, I don't have access to a fridge while in HK so having leftovers is annoying. Some of these judgments I've only based on menu prices:
Wondee Siam (have eaten)
Ariana Kebab (have eaten)
El Centro (have eaten)
Bali Nusa (menu)
Uncle Nick's (menu)
Turkish Cuisine (menu)
Rice & Beans (menu)

Places I have mixed feelings about:
Gazala (had a lamb kebab that felt small for the price. Bread was yummy, meat was not)
Leon Bakery (mole tamale only so-so. But of course, dirt-cheap)

Places I'm curious about:
Xie Xie
Kyotofu (they have Saturday brunch menu, which is slightly out of price range but intriguing)
Piece of Chicken
Lucky's Burgers
Good n Plenty (although it seems they're not open Saturdays)

Due to price, portability, quickness, convenience, I would definitely be partial to good sandwiches or pizza (slices, of course). Or soup, since it's winter. And of course, because there doesn't seem to be much of it in the area, I keep craving Indian food :). If anyone knows of a spectacular egg and cheese, that would also be welcome.

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  1. Leon Bakery on 9th between 47th and 48th has pretty decent tamales (and of course bakery items) for takeout. I think tamales are about $2 a piece.

    If you don't mind a walk, Indus Express on 48th between 6th Ave and 5th has good chaat and decent steam table offerings + naan / paratha.

    Kyotofu is probably a bit pricier than what you want, though it's good; Xie Xie is also on the pricier side and IMO not a good value. Piece of Chicken is just crazy cheap. I don't personally like the food, there, but it's not awful ... and it's crazy cheap. Haven't tried Lucky's or Good 'n' Plenty.

    2 Replies
    1. re: cimui

      Yeah, I wasn't super-impressed w/ Leon as I said above, although it's cheap enough to try again--I think it was only $1.25. Do they ever have tamales on special at Tehuitzingo (they're not on the regular menu)? Has anyone tried them at Tulcingo? A bit pricier than Leon's.

      Forgot to mention in the "curious" category, but has anyone tried El Deportivo on 9th?

      1. re: NancyC

        El Deportivo is good, but it'll be $10+ with tax by the time you're out of there. if you go, be sure to snag some of the minced garlic off the counter.

    2. several suggestions to get you started, with the *disclaimer* that i've heard good things (either from friends or here on CH), but haven't been myself:
      - Amy's Bread (9th b/w 46th & 47th) for sandwiches & salads
      - Lime Jungle (9th Ave b/w 53rd & 54th) for Mexican
      - B-Bap (9th b/w 54th & 55th) for fusion rice bowls
      - Aaheli (9th b/w 54th & 55th) for Indian

      i'd suggest checking out their menus & searching the board to decide for yourself.

      2 Replies
      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        I forgot about Lime Jungle, I've been there before. Might be an option if I get tired of the Mexican grocery stores :).

        B-bap sounds like a possibility, although I'll admit the thing I like best about bibimbap is when it's stone-bowl style.

        Amy's Bread--last weekend there was a line out the door! In the snow! I suppose that's as good a review as any. I just checked out the menu and it's a bit cheaper than I always believed (had never been there).

        1. re: NancyC

          We used Amy's sandwiches for an event, and I was pleasantly surprised. Definitely a solid option for the area. Especially when bought with one of their desserts.... (as simple as a chocolote or cinammon twist for $1.25...)
          Also, for sandwiches, think about Amish Market; a good sized portion for I think $7. Nothing exciting, but a lot of Boar's Head meat plus pick-your-own-side item.
          Two Boots just opened up a little ways back on 9th ave; have not tried the HK one yet, but have enjoyed other locations. Granted, it's not for everyone, with the oregano tinted crust and funky toppings, so keep this in mind. Have not tried Pizza Plus but there is a new one on 9th ave and their toppings look pretty fresh when I have walked by.

      2. You've gotten to many of the good ones. Check out: the Amish Market .... and a little farther, but: Margon

        1. Azuri Cafe on 51st and 10th fits the bill. Great soup and falafel (get the platter, it comes with more salads that are the real shining stars).

          11 Replies
          1. re: bern1

            I almost posted Azuri, too -- but alas, it's closed on Saturdays, so doesn't work for the OP. Otherwise it's a great choice.

            1. re: cimui

              Ah, I had a feeling about Azuri. Same goes for a lot of places that people may think have a reasonable workday lunch...prices may not apply to Saturdays.

              1. re: NancyC

                Yeah, that's a bummer. Maoz is a much further walk (40th and 7th Ave.), but once the weather gets warmer, you might want to look into it. They have good falafel.

                A few more ideas: If you want sandwiches, Sullivan Street Bakery is supposed to have good ones on great bread. (This is according to my co-workers; I haven't tried them b/c of a wheat intolerance.) I hear they have passable pizzas, too.

                Kashkaval is fairly good for soups and Mediterranean small plates, but a good part of that menu is either on the higher end of your price range or past it. If you feel like a splurge or just want soup, look into it: http://www.menupages.com/restaurants/...

                Since you're craving Indian and my area favorite (Indus Express) is a bit of a walk for you in this weather, look into Desi Deli for Punjabi food. From what I remember (I think I last ate there about four years ago...), I probably wouldn't call the food great, but it's not awful and very inexpensive.

                Saigon48 has daily, $7 lunch specials that I think extend to Saturday (but call to check). Again, it's not great, but some dishes (i.e. the rice vermicelli served with grilled beef, pork or chicken) are decent to good. The pho and pad thai are not among the decent dishes.

                Finally, a place I've tried only once, but liked: El Papasito. It's very close to you on 53rd, between 8th and 9th. They have generous portions of Dominican and I think Cuban offerings like carne guisada (the one dish I tried; it was quite competent), mofongo, cubano sandwiches, modongo, etc...

                1. re: cimui

                  Yeah, I passed El Papasito and a lot of entrees were near or past the top of the range (same with El Deportivo on 9th), but a cubano is definitely within range!

                  I've been to Kashkaval before for a group fondue night, wasn't really thinking of them as something for takeaway. I'll look into it though.

                  If next Saturday is nice enough for some more walking I'll check out Sullivan Street Bakery...although I'm wary of places that don't publish prices.

                  I've passed by Desi Deli on the way to Tulcingo del Valle and Tehuitzingo...have wondered about it but not strongly enough.

                  Saigon 48 does say "daily" lunch special on menupages...here's hoping that actually includes weekends! Noted to stay away from pho and pad thai.

                  1. re: NancyC

                    Sandwiches at Sullivan are all $6, pizza slices are $3.50. Coworker corrects me and says that the pizzas are "really damn tasty" and not just "passable" as I'd characterized them.

                    Don't be put off by the expensive prices for some items at El Papasito. There are budget friendly items to be found if you look. The basic mofongo is only $6, there's almost always a daily soup (creole gumbo, cocido, beef noodle, modongo, etc...) that's $4 to $6. Sandwiches are $2.75 (burgers) to $6 (steak sandwich). I don't think I paid more than $6 for my carne guisada and it was big enough for two meals.

                    Kashkaval has all those takeaway items in the case up front.

                    Anyway... I'll keep brainstorming and will post if I come across anything else. Would love to hear your new finds, too.

                    1. re: cimui

                      cimui, these are EXCELLENT suggestions!

                      1. re: cimui

                        I ate at Troy this weekend, 9th and 40th. Perhaps not a very exciting choice, but it's not on these boards much so I thought I'd mention it. I like places that have tables without table service...since it was quite cold (but not cold enough to stick to a 2-block radius) it was nice to be able to eat in without extra charge. And because I am easily charmed by little signs of "authenticity," I liked the random variety show playing on the Turkish TV channel and the Turkish calling card info posted by the register. I had an Adana kebab which was pretty tasty, decently spiced and a good size, about $7 including tax. Although they don't make their own bread--just a grocery store brand--the filling was better than the sandwich I'd previously had at Gazala (I know it's Turkish vs. Syrian but...similar general category) even though Gazala has better bread. Although it's slightly out of range, I am planning to try their Iskender kebab soon, as it's a guilty pleasure and it's cheaper there than at most places.

                        After that, stopped by Poseidon for a piece of baklava and was floored. Wow, that's good stuff. I think it's been a while since I've had non-Turkish baklava. It seems flakier, and at least Poseidon's version is built up very thick. There was a fairly good-sized crowd for such a cold day, all getting something that was hidden in the kitchen. Any guesses? I was assuming some sort of savory pie but didn't ask. Would love to try their spanakopita next time. Also tried a few of the lacy cookies, can't remember the name, some are sandwiched around vanilla and some around chocolate. Very tasty. Any other recommendations there?

                        Out of curiosity I also stopped by the International Foods store (or International Grocery?) on 40th and 9th. Didn't buy anything, but they also had pastries that were touted as homemade. Anyone ever try those?

                      2. re: NancyC

                        Desi Deli is decent steam table Indian. Lots of cabbies seem to like it.

                        You should also check out Poseidon Bakery, which has delicious savory pies that reheat well.

                        1. re: a_and_w

                          @ a_and_w: Cool. If I'm up for a longer break tomorrow, maybe I'll wander over to Poseidon for some dessert after a Thai lunch...the bakery isn't open late enough for dinner.

                          Just had the huge buffet at Darbar Grill for lunch today so I'm set on Indian for a while :).

                          @ cimui: thanks so much for all your suggestions...have written down the names & addresses (which I'd forgotten last week) and hopefully will remember what was good at each place (as I don't have a smart phone to re-check!). A nearby source for gumbo would be amazing this time of year! Also, have you ever eaten the crepes from the lady in the internet cafe? http://midtownlunch.com/2009/04/03/ma...

                        2. re: NancyC

                          Saigon 48 has gone downhill in the past few months. it was never great, but i ended up there once a week anyway. they no longer give spring rolls with the lunch special unless you ask and the portions have been cut back.

                          1. re: coasts

                            Great info, thanks! I don't crave Vietnamese too strongly anyway...but it's always good to have variety.

                2. i used to work right near where you are and know many of these restaurants very well. I do not like Lucky's, especially with Island so close. Piece of Chicken is ok for the price. I prefer Delta on 48th & 9th. Their pulled pork sandwhich is $9.99 and is enough for two meals. Xie Xie is good but overpriced and you'll leave hungry.
                  Uncle Nicks has $5 gyros that go a long way. Also try Room Service for Thai. Blockheads is ok but not great. Just assume have Chipotle, honestly.

                  i second Aaheli...

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: coasts

                    Definitely want to try Aaheli, and wishing Bombay Pizza sounded a bit better. I tried Lucky's this weekend and while the burger was only so-so (but not bad), the onion rings were AWESOME. Someday when it's warmer I envision a meal of onion rings and a milkshake. Yeah, healthy. (Island Burger is great, but pushing that upper limit on price).

                    Disappointing about Xie Xie...it sounds like the sandwiches are actually kind of tasty, and they look big in all the photos I've seen, but there's always a disclaimer/caption that they're actually pretty small.

                    I'm surprised about Uncle Nick's, because I have never seen sandwiches on their menu posted out front (looked multiple times because I kept forgetting I'd already looked). That's why I ruled out ever going there, but I see from menupages that they actually do have them for only $4.95. Thanks for pointing that out...if next Saturday is as cold as this Saturday was, Uncle Nick's is really the optimal walking distance :).

                    Things would be so much easier if there were a microwave and fridge. But it's an art studio, not an office, so there's not much in the way of amenities.

                    1. re: NancyC

                      Mee Noodle on 53rd and 9th is also worth a mention. i love their pan fried dumplings in soup with hand pulled ramen.

                      also, the salads at Island are really good and really large. easily a two-meal portion.

                      1. re: coasts

                        Thanks. I also looked up Room Service and they seem to be the only Thai place (out of Wondee and Pam Real) that has lunch specials on Saturday (at least, they say "daily"). I'm usually a bit picky about Asian foods but will sway that when the price is low :).

                        Just looked up Delta too...haven't had pulled pork in a year. It's probably time.

                        1. re: NancyC

                          I just ate dinner at Room Service 3 days ago. Food was absolutely delicious (and very reasonably priced!). The Tuna Tartar appetizer was a standout as well as the Bok Choi Side, but everything was really tasty with large portions.

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                          Room Service
                          690 9th Ave, New York, NY 10036

                          1. re: NancyC

                            I had dinner there about a week or so ago and I liked it. The duck salad was very good, veg dumplings a little mushy were our apps. The entrees were pad thai which was quite good and the chicken curry which my friend said she liked too. Our standout was the duck salad. Nice atmosphere in the restaurant too. If you go for lunch please post. Would love to try that one out too.

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                            Room Service
                            690 9th Ave, New York, NY 10036

                            1. re: G3B

                              OK, this is a high possibility for tomorrow's lunch. Thanks...I love duck salad.

                    2. Anyone ever had the bar food at Hibernia? It's right next to my studio and I didn't realize they had food until now. It looks like the sandwiches are the same price as some of these other places though so maybe only an option when 15F or below...

                      Actually now that I write that, I think there aren't that many bars that do takeout food. Same probably goes for 1-2-3 Burger-Shot-Beer, unfortunately.

                      It's starting to sound like I eat burgers every week, which is definitely not the case...

                      1. Has anyone mentioned Poseidon Bakery? They've got some good savory pastries--like spanakopita and tiropita--as well as desserts. Ninth Ave. between 44th and 45th.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: wasny

                          Poseidon Bakery is the best family owned bakery of any kind in Manhattan. The cookies that look like little tea cakes are moist and flavored with authentic Greek spices that have no counterpart from any other cuisine. The Nonna who runs the place told me their names, but Greek isn't my strong suit, and she couldn't give me the names of any similar spices from anywhere else. The Baklava is dripping with real Greek honey of the highest quality.
                          All of the sweets are exceptional and all taste of the passion of homemade goods. The savory pies and pastries are also good, but not as devastatingly wondrous as the sweets.
                          This place has been run by the same family for 75 years; they moved from the original location on 9th ave in the 30's a few years ago.

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                          Poseidon Bakery
                          629 9th Ave, New York, NY 10036

                        2. Pam Real Thai Food on 49th and 9th

                          Hell's Kitchen Pizza on 47th and 10th